Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Exam Stress

I was thinking about the coming term and how many things will be happening, lots of brave folk taking singing exams, Christmas Concerts, Music College Auditions for two singers, and anything else that happens to troll along between September and December!

I know that some folk are not very exam orientated, and find the angst and sometimes agony of that moment of truth, simply not worth it. Adults really do have that choice ! Well, sometimes I push very hard for them to take these 'devices of the devil', but if someone has a positive 'allergy' to them I would never force. Gentle arm twisting, and the knowledge that I would never let them enter if there was any real doubt about the outcome, usually wins through!

There is nothing like a 'deadline' - is'nt that a song from South Pacific!? Deadlines are almost an essential for a benchmark of progress. I can tell my students until I am blue in the face where they stand in the great scheme of things, but a tastefully printed and carefully signed scrap of paper says more than I could in 10 years of lessons. Young and old alike benefit from the confidence boost of that one moment of confirmation, and I can hold it against them when they tell me post exam that the song I have given them is 'just too hard' ! But ...insert pupil's name... remember you passed your Grade 6 with flying colours, this is a walk in the park by comparison. Devious or what!

For youngsters, it is often the best tool for motivation, and gives them a real self worth as they see for themselves that if they put the work in, they will get the result! ' Simples tch'

This term I think I will have about 15 exam candidates, from Grade 1 through to Grade 8, and 4 Concert Certificates (which is a new exam on the Trinity College of Music Syllabus, whereby the nastiness of Aural and Sight Reading is replaced by more actual songs! Hurrah!!! However they can only take this after they have completed their Grade 8 - Cruel me.................

Some songs have been on all the Exam Syllabi for eons, and thus I have taught what feels like about 7452 times over the years.

My absolute favourite of those old timers is 'The Path to the Moon' by Eric Thiman. It is such a beautiful little song usually set for Grades 3 or 4. It is always a sign of greatness when a song can be sung by adults and children alike and the nature of the flowing 6/8 melody, and simple but eloquent lyrics are appreciated at all ages. The final moment of each verse is an extended phrase based on the words ' To carry , to carry, to carry me over the sea...'

There are few songs of which I never tire but this is one.

Now the tune will be whirling around my synapses for the next 24 hours!

Please feel free to comment if you wish, or just introduce yourselves. I would love to know why people are interested in a singing teacher in the middle of Paradise nowhere !


  1. I love to sing but have never been tempted to take an exam in it, or even considered it really. As I've mentioned before, our singing teacher has now left and although it'll be good to have a Wednesday evening free for a while I will miss it!

  2. I think I'd love to have you as my teacher!
    Do you have time to come to Australia for a visit? (smiles)

    I did have lessons last year, and went for my very first exam which I passed with Honours. Ideally I'd like to have time to study at the Conservatory, but I'm time prohibited as I homeschool my children as well.

    The children's dance school has taken me on as a singing teacher there, as they now have Musical Theatre as part of their repertoire. The students I have a very much still beginners, but I'm enjoying putting some ideas together. The more advanced two are working on a song from "The Secret Garden: The Girl I Mean To Be." It's such a pretty little piece!

  3. Its all ballet exams here - my 12 year old is doing his grade 4 this year and I've promised to get him some badly needed new shoes. I think he may be interested in singing later but I'm not pushing it at the moment - he has too much else to do :)

    viv in nz

  4. Thank you so much for the comments! It is good to know that singing is important to folk! It restores my faith in human nature!